The Healthy Diet Index supports diet quality assessment and nutritional counseling in health care

The healthy diet indicator developed by Finnish nutritionists makes it easy to assess the quality of the diet. Its effectiveness has been proven in a recently published study.

Nutritional counseling plays an important role in preventing and treating chronic lifestyle diseases. In healthcare settings, nutritional counseling is often provided by professionals without specific nutrition training, and there is a demand for tools for reliable and easy assessment of diet quality. One of these tools is the healthy diet indicator developed in the recently completed StopDia project.

The Healthy Diet Index describes diet quality in relation to nutrition recommendations and the diet that prevents type 2 diabetes. The index scale ranges from 0 to 100. In addition, the healthy diet index also gives points for different areas of the diet, including Meal style, cereals, fruits, vegetables, fats, fish, meat, dairy products, snacks and desserts. The goal was to create a recording method that is sensitive to even minor changes in eating habits, making it easier to monitor changes and may give additional motivation to implement dietary changes.

The Healthy Diet Index was created in collaboration with nutrition experts from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, the University of Eastern Finland, the University Hospital Tampere, and the Birkanma Hospital District. The Healthy Diet Index is based on a validated questionnaire on food intake previously developed and used as part of the Finnish National Program for Diabetes Prevention and Care (DEHKO). However, it is difficult to visualize the entire diet based on individual questions. Nutritional counseling is easier and more realistic for a client when the diet is being evaluated as a whole rather than individual nutrients, and when specific food advice is provided.

A recently published study compared the healthy diet index to the nutrients calculated from a food diary (n = 77). The researchers also examined the association of a healthy diet index score with risk factors for chronic disease in the 3,100 people with a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes who participated in the StopDia study. The Healthy Diet Index score has been found to be associated with intake of energy nutrients, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals. In the StopDia dataset, a higher index of a healthy diet was associated with lower body mass index, waist circumference, and blood glucose and triglyceride levels in both men and women. The study was published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

“The results support the importance of dietary changes in preventing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Even small improvements in eating habits are important to health, when repeated daily,” says early-stage researcher Kersica Aitola, who is writing a PhD thesis on the StopDia study at the University of Eastern Finland. , “The effect on health is evident even if a person does not lose weight.”

Scoring methods to measure diet quality have also been developed in the past, including the DASH index for preventing hypertension, but these often require completing a time-consuming food repeat questionnaire.

“The new healthy diet index is somewhat similar to previous scoring methods, but it also assesses meal pattern, which is often highlighted as a stumbling block in weight management when working with patients. Importantly, the Healthy Diet Index was created on the basis of Nutrition recommendations, ”says nutrition therapy professor Ursula Schwab from the University of Eastern Finland.

Eating questionnaire is quick and easy to fill out but calculating a healthy diet index requires automation.

“The automated and clearly visualized health diet indicator will be an excellent tool for healthcare professionals to support nutritional counseling. Therefore it will be important to integrate it into different e-healthcare services and digital care pathways. It can also serve as a tool for patient self-monitoring, and can include clear advice on how to Make dietary changes based on the individual’s responses.


Research article:

Lindstrom, J; Itola, K. Pullonen, A. Himeo, K. Ahonen, K. Karhunen, L. Maniko, R. Siljamäki-Ojansuu, U .; Tilles-Tirkkonen, T .; Vertanin, E. Pihlajamäki, J.; Schwab, U. Formation and validation of the Healthy Diet Index (HDI) to assess diet quality in healthcare. Int. J. Environment. Public Health Res 2021, 18, 2362. https: //Resonate.Deer /10.3390 /Egyerv 18052362 Link: https: //www.mdpi.Com /1660-4601 /18 /5 /2362

The Eating Questionnaire and Healthy Diet Index scores are available at: /Stopedia /Material Bank /? Lang =at

For more information, please contact:

Kirsikka Aittola

Certified Dietitian, Early Stage Researcher

University of Eastern Finland, Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition

kirsikka.aittola (at)

Phone +358 50 5976 786

Twitter: StopDiaFinland

http: // www.Stopedia.Fi

Ursula Schwab

Professor of Nutrition Therapy

University of Eastern Finland, Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition

ursula.schwab (at)

Phone +358 40 3552 791

Jana Lindstrom

Research Director, National Institute for Health and Welfare

jaana.lindstrom (at)

Phone +358 29 5248635

Ole Polonin

Coordination Director, Birkanma Hospital District

auli.polonen (at)

Phone +358 400 723 670

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